During “Embroidery Basics” class this week, a random discussion started about machine embroidery designs. We were talking about matching appropriate designs with appropriate fabrics and the topic of purchasing designs online came up. I have been involved with machine embroidery since 1994, so I have seen the market change over the years to meet customer needs and trends. I have designs in my collection that have come from all different companies and sources, but what surprises me is customer willingness to buy from unknown sources. By this I mean buying from individuals where there is a digital download only with no customer recourse should the design not stitch out the way it should. Just as in any area of life, there are people who are very good at what they do and there are those who are not. Digitizing designs for the home embroidery market usually does not require any specialized licensing, so anyone who has purchased digitizing software can create designs for sale. This is not a bad thing by any means. In fact, this type of autonomy from a large company can get an artist’s work into the market place much more directly than ever before. As a consumer, I just caution you to do your homework before buying designs online. In my experience, most reputable online sources usually offer a free embroidery design so you can practice downloading from their site and so you can test their quality before you make a purchase. If I am new to a site, I download the free design and stitch it out before I make a purchase. Just remember that the old adage “You get what you pay for” still holds true in this digital age.